By Matt Nauman
Nearly all PG&E customers have had their service restored after being impacted by the series of “Atmospheric River” winter storms that struck Northern and Central California over the past week. This was the largest storm series to impact PG&E’s service area in more than six years.
Crews continue to work around the clock to restore service for the remaining customers who have experienced storm-related outages, especially those in locations with deep snow in the Sierra Nevada and foothills.
Since the storm series hit on Saturday, Jan. 7, PG&E has restored service to about 680,000 customers who had lost power. By the end of today, all customers will be restored except for a small number where access will prevent restoration until Saturday.
Strong winds, falling trees and major flooding damaged electrical equipment throughout the company’s 70,000-square-mile service area. PG&E’s meteorologists reported the “Atmospheric River” storm series helped produce the wettest winter so far (at this date) for the Sierra Nevada and ahead of the legendary winter of 1982-1983.
So far, according to PG&E meteorologists, it has been the wettest winter Humboldt and Mendocino counties have seen in 20 years. Rainfall amounts during the storm included 15.7 inches at Mount Umunhum in the Santa Cruz Mountains, 18 inches in Blue Canyon in Placer County and 20.6 inches at Venado in Sonoma County.
Crews are working to restore the final storm-caused outages as soon as possible, but this work could stretch into Saturday, depending on the scope of the area impacted and the severity of the weather. In some areas, deep snow, rockslides and mudslides and other obstacles are making access difficult for crews. The long-range weather forecast calls for mostly dry weather through Monday, followed by a return of wet and unsettled, and potentially stormy, weather by mid-week.
PG&E has devoted more than 5,000 people to the response effort, including 38 mutual-aid crews from Washington, Oregon and California assisting PG&E’s crews. Southern California Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Eugene Power and Water, Central Lincoln, Tacoma Water and Power, Redding Electricity and Lodi Electricity provided crews. The additional resources have helped PG&E assess damage and restore power safely and more quickly. Our field resources have been supported by PG&E employees in local and regional emergency centers and offices throughout the service area.
“We appreciate our customers’ patience during this significant storm event, and we’ve remained focused on restoring power for all of our customers safely and as quickly as possible. Across our entire service area, from Eureka to Bakersfield, our dedicated crews have been working in heavy rain, strong wind, and snow to restore power,” said Pat Hogan, PG&E senior vice president, Electric Transmission & Distribution.
For the latest information on power outages and restoration updates, visit www.pge.com from your mobile device or desktop, or call 1-800-743-5002. Customers also can visit PG&E’s Twitter feed at http://www.twitter.com/pge4me and PG&E’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pacificgasandelectric.
With more winter weather in the months ahead, PG&E offers these tips to help customers stay safe during the storm:
- Always treat low hanging and downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Be aware that trees, pools of water and other objects may be in contact with power lines. If you see damaged power lines or electrical equipment, call 911 immediately and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.
- Heavy rainfall, flooding, ground saturation and earth movement are some of the greatest risks to our gas system. Customers should always call 911 and then PG&E if they smell gas or suspect a leak at their home or business. PG&E’s gas system is being closely monitored by our gas experts and our crews are available to make any necessary repairs.
- Call 811 before any repairs are made to storm damaged areas. Failing to do so puts safety at risk and can result in damage to infrastructure, cause injuries or lead to fines.
- During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, and not candles, due to the risk of fire. If you must use candles, please keep them away from drapes, lampshades, holiday trees and small children. Do not leave candles unattended.
- If you experience an outage, unplug or turn off all electrical appliances to avoid overloading circuits and to prevent fire hazards when power is restored. Simply leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.